The Irrepressible Wangari Maathai
For the past few days, I spent a fair bit of time reading up on and reminiscing about the eminent Wangari Maathai.
A renowned political and environmental activist who had done more than a fair bit to ensure that the world is a bit more livable when she left than when she lived in it. She won a Nobel peace prize award for her efforts that helped lighten the load of the world. In an era where the only hope you can have from the world, is that it doesn’t go further into decline with the passage of time, Wangari makes me want to grow old enough to know more about what the goodness of someone’s heart and hard work can accomplish.
She pursued an education in biology in the States, after which she returned to Kenya and forged a path of social and environmental upliftment which changed the lives of many. Her most well-known achievement was starting the green belt movement in Africa, which has helped grow the population of trees by the millions. While doing that she also gave the people of her country find gainful employment in the noblest task as that. The fruits of her actions continue to yield their ‘fruits’ even to this day. These trees help bring the much needed ecological balance to the world, and to all the
creatures that reside in these trees and the air that we all breath. These trees also offer a reprieve from the problem of soil erosion and distribution of nutrition in the soil, while serving as a source of firewood and at times much-needed shade.
What really moved me about her story was that a woman with such a kindly face and a disarming smile could harbor such concern and magnanimity within her, in a way that it could change the world so. She has also been intimately involved with fighting for the cause of equality for women.
I was baffled when I read of all the different councils and committees she had been on, on an advisory role and in some decisive positions, about concerns such as environmentalism, sustainable development, women’s issues and many other social causes. She’s received countless awards for all the great work she has done. She has also been awarded numerous honorary doctorates by some of greatest institutions of the world.
My hands do not tire in her praise, but this one time, because of how personal and immediate the results of her deeds were I couldn’t help but be inspired by how selflessly tenacious she is. Such resolution and resilience, combined with the intelligence, broadness of awareness about the issues of society, how absolute masterful her expertise in her field of study and an ability to invest such amounts of energy into the welfare of the world, is an almost unreal standard to base one’s own life goals on. But I didn’t walk away from this experience feeling some kind of self-catharsis about the good works of some distant entity of great caliber. No, I got away from this experience, enlightened, perhaps with a similar zeal for change and courageous action.